Planning conditions

March 17th, 2016

In Dunnett Investments Ltd v SoS for CLG and East Dorset District Council [2016] EWHC 534 (Admin) Patterson J, at para 37, distilled the law on construing planning conditions in the following way:-

  1. Planning conditions need to be construed in the context of the planning permission as a whole;
  2. Planning conditions should be construed in a common sense way so that the court should give a condition a sensible meaning if at all possible;
  3. Consistent with that approach a condition should not be construed narrowly or strictly;
  4. There is no reason to exclude an implied condition but, in considering the principle of implication, it has to be remembered that a planning permission (and its conditions) is “a public document which may be relied upon by parties unrelated to those originally involved”;
  5. The fact that breach of a planning condition may be used to support criminal proceedings means that “a relatively cautious approach” should be taken;
  6. A planning condition is to be construed objectively and not by what parties may or may not have intended at the time but by what a reasonable reader construing the condition in the context of the planning permission as a whole would understand;
  7. A condition should be clearly and expressly imposed;
  8. A planning condition is to be construed in conjunction with the reason for its imposition so that its purpose and meaning can be properly understood;
  9. The process of interpreting a planning condition, as for a planning permission, does not differ materially from that appropriate to other legal documents.

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